History of our Lodge
Composed of French Huguenot refugees and of French soldiers who came to America with Rochambeau and the Marquis de Lafayette, a Lodge known as “THE FRENCH LODGE” was working in New York since 1773 with an official recognition of the Grand Orient de France.
The revolution of Saint Domingue and its subsequent independence brought to New York and Louisiana a wave of new immigrants, many of them Freemasons, and, on December 12, 1793, a warrant was granted to “LA TENDRE AMITIÉ FRANCO-AMÉRICAINE” which became “L’UNITÉ AMÉRICAINE” on May 26, 1795. “L’UNION FRANÇAISE” was instituted in New York City on December 26, 1797, and, it received its charter (with the number 14) from the Most Worshipful Robert R Livingston, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York, on June 6, 1798.
On December 30, 1799, “L’UNION FRANÇAISE” was invited to be the first Masonic delegation in George Washington’s funeral procession. This event was faithfully recreated in the ceremonies of December 1899 and 1999.
“THE FRENCH LODGE” was closed in December 1804. Its Secretary, Brother DuBois Guillaume, affiliated with “L’UNION FRANÇAISE” in April 1805, and he brought with him the sword which had been given by the Marquis de Lafayette to “THE FRENCH LODGE” in 1784. This ‘Lafayette Sword’ was subsequently used for ceremonial purposes by the sitting Masters of “L’UNION FRANÇAISE” until 1835.
A quarrel between the Lodges of the City and the authorities of the State of New York produced on August 23, 1819 a reclassification which gave “L’UNION FRANÇAISE” the number 71. The reorganization of June 7, 1839 gave it its final and current number 17.
The history of the Lodge, although very powerful and influential in New York State Masonry, was also scattered with periods of dissidence - political or personal - and, as a result, it gave birth to some new Lodges: members of “L’UNION FRANÇAISE” opened “LA SINCÉRITÉ” in 1805, others “LA CLÉMENTE AMITIÉ COSMOPOLITE” in 1855, and, on September 5, 1863, Worshipful Brother Attilio Massabo (a former Master of “L’UNION FRANÇAISE”) obtained a warrant for “GARIBALDI LODGE”. This is why “L’UNION FRANÇAISE” is known as the ‘MOTHER LODGE’ of the 10th Manhattan District.
Historic members include: Victor Dupont de Nemours and General Gabriel Rey who joined in 1804, J.J.J. Gourgas in 1806 (a Huguenot refugee who became the ‘conservator’ of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in the State of New York during the dark period of 1826 to 1840), Pierre Napoléon Bonaparte in 1837, and a long list of dedicated Brethren who ‘left their mark’ in the Grand Lodge and in the Concordant Bodies of New York City and of New York State.
“L’UNION FRANÇAISE” celebrated its bicentennial on Tuesday, June 17, 1997 with a rededication of the Lodge by M\W\ Earle J. Hino, Jr., Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York, in presence of T R?F? Claude Charbonniaud, Grand Maître de La Grande Loge Nationale Française.
The festivities featured an ecumenical celebration on Sunday, June 15, in the Cathedral of St. John The Divine with the laying of a permanent carved memorial stone in St. Martin Chapel which is also known as the French Chapel, and a Sunset Cruise in New York Harbor on Saturday, June 14.
Tuesday, June 17, 1997 was declared ‘L’UNION FRANÇAISE BICENTENNIAL DAY’ in a Proclamation issued by the Mayor of the City of New York, Honorable Rudolph W. Giuliani.